Cover Image: The Black Queen

The Black Queen

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Member Reviews

This book just offers so much - I cannot wait for the author's next book!
Racism, social justice, queer characters, high school, police, real topics. The writing weaves these complexities into a tragic murder, two young women coming together to find justice. One the best friend, a queer black young woman. The other a white privileged, naïve suspect.
A quick, obsessive read. I could not put it down.
One of my 2022 favorites.

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*4.25 stars*
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. Wow! I was only able to predict one part of this book. Other than that, I was surprised by each new twist that was revealed as I read it. I think the dual POV worked really well in this story. Seeing the mystery unfold from both Duchess’s and Tinsley’s perspectives really helped move the story forward. My only major complaint about this book is that the ending felt a little abrupt, and I would have liked to see the resolution explored a little bit more. However, the author mentioned in the acknowledgments that we might see the return of certain characters in future books, so I’m definitely looking forward to reading whatever he writes next! This YA murder mystery comes out on January 31st, 2023, so put it on your TBR’s now!

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Set in a small Mississippi town experiencing a great deal of racial divide, The Black Queen follows the story of two students who try to solve the murder of their schools first black Homecoming queen, Nova. Duchess, daughter of the town’s 1st black police captain and Nova’s best friend, and Tinsley, the popular, rich white girl and the number 1 suspect, both race to figure out what happened to her.

This had AGGGTM vibes but with an active murder investigation. There are apparently quite a bit of scandals in this tiny town and a lot comes to light as the girls keep digging and getting closer to the truth. It was easy to guess some aspects of the plot, but who I thought did it kept constantly changing as new things were revealed. I love being wrong!

This does touch on racism pretty heavily. I thought the commentary was well done and showed a lot of different sides to the issue. Duchess and her father grapple with the judgment that comes with him being a black police officer while Tinsley comes to better understand her white privilege and how she has hurt others in the past.

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Easily one of the best YA Thrillers of all time, THE BLACK QUEEN is impossible to put down and will stick with readers long after the shocking and stunning finish. Sure to be an instant favorite and a must-read for 2023!

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Nova Albright is the first African American homecoming queen at Lovett High. Unfortunately, the morning after the coronation, she is found murdered; her body dumped in an old slave cemetery where she spent many hours rehabilitating. Tinsley MacArthur comes from a long line of Lovett High homecoming queens, so losing to Nova was difficult. The night of the coronation, Tinsley decides to drown her sorrows with alcohol and while she makes an angry statement about Nova winning, a "friend" records her and posts it on social media. The video make Tinsley an immediate suspect and Duchess Simmons, Nova's best friend and daughter of a local police officer, is convinced that Tinsley is guilty. Duchess is determined to see Tinsley punished for Nova's murder and she will do anything to prove it. Duchess feels that her father, and the rest of the department, aren't making much of an effort to charge Tinsley, so she decides to take matters into her own hands and do some investigating on her own. She and Tinsley create an uneasy alliance when evidence starts to show that there are far too many suspects as the girls learn that Nova had a lot of secrets and it's possible that one of those secrets, and not Tinsley's jealousy, lead to her murder.

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The Black Queen is the first novel written by Jumata Emill, a journalist who covers crime and local politics in Mississippi and parts of Louisiana. A contemporary YA thriller, The Black Queen begins with the murder of Nova, the first Black homecoming queen at her Louisiana high school. After Nova's death, two teens begin to investigate her murder - her best friend, Duchess, and her worst enemy, Tinsley. Duchess is convinced that Tinsley, Nova's white rival for homecoming queen, is behind Nova's death, and Tinsley is desperate to clear her name of suspicion. What follows is an entertaining murder mystery with fantastic ongoing conversations about the roles of race and privilege in crime and policing.

One thing I'll caution readers about is that *spoiler* there is a relationship between an adult teacher and an adolescent student. The other students refer to this as "a scandal" - I felt so much compassion for the teen in this situation and wish she had been discussed more like the victim she was.

Overall, I really, really enjoyed this one! Definitely recommended.

** Thanks so much to Jumata Emill and Random House Children's/Delacorte Press for the ARC through NetGalley! The Black Queen will be out next month, on January 31st, 2023! **

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This book had me in a death grip straight until the end. I enjoyed the twists and turns. What a great murder mystery. Of course I liked that it included discussions about police brutality, racial issues, and other social commentary as it is very relevant to the times we are in today.

While I did enjoy the character development I was hoping for a little more from the Tinsley character, but I was glad she did make SOME progress because of our opening impression of her, ouch. Some of the dialogue is a little, cringy BUT I also haven’t been a teenager in a while so perhaps they talk like that now?

I was pleasantly surprised by this novel and I am eager to read another one of the author’s works.

Thank you Netgally and Random House Children’s for this advance copy

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Trust me on this, add this book to your TBR, preorder it, whatever. READ THIS BOOK. I’m an absolute sucker for a high school thriller with generational and town secrets and this book delivered all of that, but there was so much more. Racial injustice, prejudice, the haves and have nots, this was such a good look at complicity, inequality and family dynamics. I loved every minute of this book. Both Duchess and Tinsley were such compelling characters who grew and learned from each other. I especially loved Nova’s complicated relationship with her dad as a Black police officer. Tinsley was absolutely hard to root for at times because we’ve all known people like her. But I loved that she grew and learned and evolved and saw how her actions and behaviors needed to change. There were so many different ways this book could have gone in the way of the murder that would have made perfect sense, but the way it ended up going was not only perfect for the story, but my jaw DROPPED. Emill is a welcome new author who I cannot wait to read again. Guys, again, READ THIS BOOK.

TW: racism, death, murder, mentions of sexual assault

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Children’s for an advanced digital reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review.

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I think this book just wasn't for me. A lot of it was really good; murder mysteries will always be a favorite of mine, but it I felt like a couple pieces fell a bit flat.

It seemed as if the book wanted to lean hard into a journalism angle (which would have been really cool!), but the only way it did that was through the feel of the writing.

I don't think it's a bad book by any means! I think for me it just didn't fully hit the mark.

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Book Title: The Black Queen
Author: Jumata Emill
Publisher: Random House Children’s ~ Delacorte Press
Genre: Mystery & Thriller, YA/Teen
Pub Date: January 31, 2023
My Rating: 3.4 Stars!

“Hate does something to you if you hold onto it for too long.”
Story follows a place and school that have lived so long in hate; racism and classism that they have become poisoned and little efforts are ever made to “change.
Nova is black and crowned Homecoming Queen, however the next day she is found dead.
Her Caucasian rival Tinsley is a suspect.

This story is both a murder mystery and a social commentary; a rather quick interesting but really not an enjoyable read but glad I hung in there!
This wasn’t a 4 star read for me ~I am not generous with giving stars but to me . . . 3=Good, 4=Better. 5=Best! Nothing wrong with good!
Author, Jaumata Emill is an interesting person. He earned his degree in mass communication. As a journalist he covered crime and local politics in Mississippi and part if Louisiana.

Want to thank NetGalley and Random House Children’s ~ Delacorte Press for this early eGalley.
Publishing Release Date scheduled for January 31, 2023

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Big thank you NetGalley and to the publisher for the chance to review this book pre-release.

Literally could NOT put this book down. It was a full blown mystery that had that hint of Tiffany Jackson-esque magic that seems to be so hard to find. As soon as I started it, I knew I would finish it immediately. The plot was seamless, the characters were well developed, and true mystery wasn't something that was easily guessed. HIGHLY recommend to all those that like the feeling of having their mind reeling at the end of a book, that need to flip back a couple of times to make sure they were right about a feeling they had.

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A super engaging and fast paced thriller that kept me hooked from start to finish! The real challenge is not finishing this in just one sitting.

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Reviewed for NetGalley:

Nova, the first black homecoming queen in her school, toppling the long line of legacy wins against the school’s supposed it girl, Tinsley McArthur. However, Nova’s win is lo g lived, as she is murdered on coronation night.

Nova’s friend Duchess sees all signs pointing to Tinsley as the murderer, so can she make her pay?

A small town thriller with social critcism in the foreground. Interesting read for the overall story. Did not feel much for the characters.

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I had the pleasure of reviewing an advanced copy of this book for reviewing purposes.
This book takes place after the blm movement and covid had begun. Down in a small town in the south Nova Albright won homecoming queen becoming the first black queen in Lovett high. Tinsley McArthur being the family of three other homecoming queens felt cheated and tried to pressure Nova to drop out of the running. The day after Novas coronation she is found murdered and Tinsley seems to be the number one suspect. Tinsley struggles to prove her innocence which her former best friend and now Novas best from Duchess Simmons trys to prove her guilt.
This book was fascinating. The struggle of colored people in the small town that didn't want to change their ways was quite interesting. Duchess was an interesting character just trying to help her friend. Tinsley was an popular girl struggling with a traumatic circumstance that she was being blamed for. It was interesting to see both cultures and struggles in this small town. I highly recommend this book.

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this was such a unique concept and worked so well as a mystery novel. I really enjoyed the way Jumata Emill wrote this, it felt like real people and a real story to tell. It was what I was hoping for and did a great job in telling the story it needed to. The characters were what I was hoping for and I was trying to figure out what was going on with them. It was a great mystery and I was glad I read this.

“You know what I don’t understand?” Ev cocks her head. “This is a chick who you yourself have described as back-stabbing and manipulative, and all of a sudden y’all buddy-buddy again?”

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If you loved Tiffany Jackson's The Weight of Blood, I feel like this is a good book to read right after it.Similar racial dynamics but def more intrigue and deception going on. As a person from the south that has heard of segregated proms, this is really a good depection of the insanity that goes on with racial dynamics in high schools. Very well done.

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I couldn't put this one down. I read it straight through in one sitting!

Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the advanced copy of the book.

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Very enjoyable to read! The plot was gripping and addicting, but this book was mostly elevated by how realistic and well-written the characters were. There were also some very important topics raised here. I can definitely recommend this to those who read young adult and mysteries.

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This was a really captivating book. I couldn’t put it down and thought I thought I had it figured out, I was wrong. We need more books like this.

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This book will grab you from the start. This is a mystery/thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end.

The writing takes you to the setting and you feel as if you are actually there with them. The characters are well developed and you can actually feel their emotions.

I cannot wait for this book to come out and purchase this for our library's collection. I will be recommending this book to everyone I know!

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